Is it just me, or does it seem like there is a rise in books about teens with alternative body types? Maybe I am just noticing them more... but it seems like the eating disorder fiction trend has swung a bit from the anorexia-bulimia bend to an overweight-chubby-obese focus. Honestly, I think teens will want to read both types of books, and "issues" fiction has always been popular with the teens I see.
Big Fat Manifesto is a well written book about a girl named Jamie who is fat. She prefers the term fat, and she isn't just a bit overweight... she is at least 300 pounds and comes from a family who is also dealing with weight issues. She is a journalist and starts a column in the school paper to speak honestly about what life is like when you are physically larger than most of the population. Jamie is popular, has a boyfriend, and is an actress (though only gets to play the villain or "character" roles). Jamie's open, honest, blunt, and slightly bitchy voice is really what makes this book enjoyable. Also, there are some heart-wrenching scenes where the reader can really understand how hard life can be when you don't fit into furniture (like the desks at the ACT testing center or airplane seats), clothes (everything in 4X is designed for old ladies), or your friend's car.
Vaught doesn't not glamorize obesity, but she does a great job of making someone who is not obese understand the emotional issues that might go along with being overweight. In our thin-fascinated American (world?) culture, it is easy to poke fun at overweight folks, all in the guise of concern (health! stress on resources! diabetes!). I would be interested in hearing what teens think about this book. As an aside, it is nice to read a book with a severely overweight character who is not 100% ostracized from all things normal... Jamie has friends and a boyfriend, which is not a common thing in other books like this.
Here is a brief list of fiction about teens with body issues... overweight, underweight, eating disorders etc. Got some to add? Let me know!
Large and Small: a short booklist of eating disorder fiction
Fat Kid Rules the World-- K.L. Going
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes-- Chris Crutcher
Big Fat Manifesto-- Sarah Vaught
Vibes-- Amy Kathleen Ryan
The Earth, My Butt, and other Big Round Things-- Carolyn Mackler
Mercy, Unbound-- Kim Antieau
Skin-- Adreinne Maria Vrettos
Skinny-- Ibi Kaslik
Lovesick-- Jake Coburn
How I Live Now-- Meg Rossof
Perfect-- Natasha Friend